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Monday, July 15, 2013



  • It's the end of the line for Windows XP
  • Music to a gambler's ears
  • Seed grants to sprout new ideas


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


It's the end of the line for Windows XP


Actually, the term is "end-of-life" status, and it's a phase that the Microsoft Windows XP operating system will be entering into as of April 8, 2014, according to a memo from Jason Testart, Director of Information Security Services in IST.

What does this mean for users? Other than having to deal with the shame of hanging onto an obsolete operating system, there are more serious concerns. Chiefly, that operating system updates will no longer be made available after that date.

"This presents a risk to the university since any new security vulnerability that is discovered cannot be corrected, which will endanger the confidentiality, integrity, and/or availability of information in the university's care," writes Testart.

Thankfully, there's still some time before Windows XP goes into "end of life" status, and the solution for Windows XP users is straightforward.

"I encourage all members of the university who currently use the Windows XP operating system to work with their computing support team to begin planning their move to an operating system with longer-term support," Testart writes. "Upgrading to a more modern operating system may require upgrades to software and/or hardware, so please be sure to take this into consideration when planning your move."

Anyone with questions or concerns should contact their computing support representative for assistance with migration, software/hardware updates, and general support for Windows operating systems.

"I thank you in advance for your proactive efforts in maintaining the security of Waterloo's computing infrastructure," concludes Testart.

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Music to a gambler's ears


Winning sounds on slot machines make gambling more exciting, according to a new study by Waterloo psychology professor Mike Dixon and his colleagues. Moreover, their work shows that sounds also cause players to overestimate the number of times they won while playing on slot machines. The study is published online in Springer's Journal of Gambling Studies.

If you've ever spent time in a casino, you know that sound plays a major role in the slot machine playing experience. Since the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the first such machines began appearing, players were rewarded with a ringing bell each time they had a winning combination. Today's modern slot machines, produced by companies like WMS Gaming and Bally, average about 400 sound effects.

When players spin and lose, the machine tends to go quiet. When they spin and win more than their wager, they hear a celebratory song. Interestingly, when they spin and win back less than their wager (bet $1.00 and win back 20 cents) they still hear the celebratory songs despite the fact that overall they lost money on these spins. Dixon and colleagues sought to see if these celebratory sounds could hide the fact that players were losing money on these so-called 'losses disguised as wins.'

Dixon and team measured gamblers' physiological responses to various slot machine game outcomes – wins, losses and losses disguised as wins – with and without sound during play. During slot machine play, palms may sweat, which increases skin conductance - a measure of arousal.

A total of 96 gamblers played two sessions on a slot machine simulator. In one session, both wins and 'losses disguised as wins' were accompanied by rolling sounds and celebratory winning jingles, as well as visual feedback. In a second session, the sounds were turned off and players only received visual feedback. The researchers measured the participants' skin conductance and heart rate responses to the various outcomes. At the end of play, the gamblers were asked which session they preferred and why. They also estimated how many spins they had won back more than they wagered.

Sound influenced the overall levels of arousal of players. Skin conductance responses were significantly greater in the session with sound than in the session without sound. Players also rated the noisy session as more arousing than the quiet session. The majority of players preferred the playing session where wins were accompanied by sounds, which suggests that not only do sounds make playing more exciting, players enjoy this extra level of excitement.

Sounds also contributed to players overestimating their number of wins. The authors suggest that sounds may be an integral part of 'the disguise' in losses disguised as wins, causing players to think that they have won more often during a playtime session than they actually have.

The authors conclude: "Although sounds may have contributed to players' enjoyment of the game, sound may also lead to an overestimation of winning. Both of these effects may contribute to gambling problems, such as misbeliefs about the true chances of winning, and persistence that some players experience when playing slot machines."


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Seed grants to sprout new ideas


The University of Waterloo's Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative (CDPI) has announced the first winners of its seed grant awards.

The CDPI, which is housed in the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, focuses primarily on social, behavioural, environmental, and other factors that contribute to chronic disease by "embracing the full continuum of prevention including reducing the likelihood of developing a disease or disorder (primary prevention), preventing or minimizing the progress of a disease or disorder (secondary prevention), and halting the progression of damage already done (tertiary prevention)."

The CDPI offers seed grants of up to $10,000 to promote multidisciplinary collaboration on campus by bringing together new multidisciplinary teams and strengthening existing ones, and increase their success in applications for external funding.

According to the CDP, the first call for applications met with a great response. Nine teams were successful and include investigators from 11 different departments across campus.

The project leads were drawn from Pharmacy, Optometry, Kinesiology, the School of Public Health and Health Systems, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

A second call for applications will be issued in early fall with a mid-December deadline.


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Link of the day

Saint Swithin's Day

When and where

Senate Executive Committee meeting, Wednesday, July 17, 11:00 a.m., NH 3001.

UWRC Book Club featuring ML Stedman's "The Light Between Oceans", Wednesday, July 17, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

VeloCity Campus: Basic Startup Finances Workshop, Wednesday, July 17, 7:30 p.m., EV3 4412. Register online. It’s the last workshop of the spring, and yes, there will be pizza.

Weight Watchers At Work series begins Thursday, July 18, 12:00 p.m., PAS 2438. For info call ext. 32012.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 18, SLC lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Emergency First Aid and CPR C Course, Saturday, July 20, 9:30 a.m., 6:00 p.m., CLV Community Centre. Cost is $60. Details.

UW Stock Pitch Competition, Saturday, July 20, 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., QNC. Details.

UWSA special general meeting, Tuesday, July 23, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., PHY 145. Details.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 25, SLC lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

VeloCity Demo Day and Venture Fund Finals, Thursday, July 25, 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., SLC Great Hall.

ChemEd 2013 conference, Sunday, July 28 to Thursday, August 1. Details.

WatRISQ seminar featuring Roger Lee, associate professor of mathematics, University of Chicago, "Variance Swaps on Time-Changed Markov Processes," Monday, July 29, 4:00 p.m., M3 3127.

QKD Summer School 2013, Monday July 29 to Friday, August 2, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

Spring Term lectures end, Tuesday, July 30 (which is a Monday class schedule).

Pre-examination study days, Wednesday, July 31 to Monday, August 5.

Civic Holiday, Monday, August 5, university closed.

Drop, Penalty 2 Period ends, Monday, August 5.

3rd Annual Conference on Quantum Cryptography, Monday, August 5 to Friday, August 9, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

On-campus examinations begin, Tuesday, August 6.

Online class examination days, Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, Monday, August 12 to Friday, August 16, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

On-campus examinations begin, Tuesday, August 6.

Online class examination days, Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, Monday, August 12 to Friday, August 16, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

UWRC Book Club featuring Sebastian Barry's "The Secret Scripture," Wednesday, August 21, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.


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